Middle East Monitor announced yesterday the shortlist for its annual MEMO Palestine Books Awards. According to the London-based organization, the awards, which are in their second year, are intended to “honor and promote the best books written in English on the subject of Palestine.” The idea is to promote existing books on Palestine as well as to encourage new writers to write about this sensitive but important topic drawing attention to a cause that is at the heart of the conflict raging in the Middle East.”
As such, the award is an extension of Middle East Monitor’s remit of not only scrutinizing media coverage of the Middle East, but providing and promoting informed comment on the region — including Palestine — and challenging misreporting.
Announced in alphabetical order, the shortlist comprises:
The Rise and Fall of Human Rights (Lori Allen, Stanford University Press) — described by the publishers as a “groundbreaking ethnographic investigation of the Palestinian human rights world — its NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], activists and “victims,” as well as their politics, training, and discourse — since 1979.” A valuable contribution to the debate on whether the “professionalization and politicization” of the terms “human rights” has rendered it meaningless in the Palestinian context.
The Gaza Kitchen (Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt, Just World Books) — both a cookbook introducing the world to the fresh, spicy cuisine of Gaza, and a revealing look into the world of Gaza’s women and their culinary creativity.
Seeking Palestine (edited by Penny Johnson and Raja Shehadeh, Olive Branch Press/Interlink Publishing Group USA; Originally published by Women Unlimited, India) — a collection of work by Palestinian writers and visual artists, reflecting on and challenging the constraints imposed on them by the Israeli occupation, exile and society.
Brokers of Deceit (Rashid Khalidi, Beacon Press) — eminent historian and commentator Rashid Khalidi’s exposé of how the US has failed to play the “honest broker” in its dealings with Israel and the Palestinians.
Meet me in Gaza (Louisa Waugh, Saqi Books) — a vivacious, eye-opening account of the author’s years living and working in Gaza.
The winner of this year’s prize will be announced at a ceremony in November 2013.
The overall winners of the 2012 award were Jen Marlowe and Sami Al-Jundi for The Hour of Sunlight (Nation Books). Sara Roy won the Academic Book award for Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza: Engaging the Islamist Social Sector (Princeton University Press), and Ben White received a special mention for Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy (Pluto Press).